Illustration of Odysseus tied to a ship's mast

The Odyssey

by Homer

Start Free Trial

In The Odyssey, how do the suitors get weapons in the final battle scene?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the beginning of book 22 of the Odyssey, many of the suitors are armed and possess swords. However, they are woefully unprepared for the violent onslaught of Odysseus and his small band of loyal supporters. Odysseus reveals his identity in dramatic fashion by killing the arrogant suitor Antinous with an arrow through the throat. Odysseus then taunts the remaining suitors by yelling, “You must fight, or fly for your lives; and fly, not a man of you shall.” The suitors quickly understand their dire situation and begin to fight back. As Odysseus unleashes a hail of arrows on his opponents, his son Telemachus realizes that his fathers’ arrows will soon be spent and volunteers to run to the armory to fetch armor and heavy weaponry for the coming battle.

When Telemachus leaves the armory, he accidentally leaves the door open. Melanthius, the goat-herder, betrays Odysseus by choosing “twelve shields, with as many helmets and spears” and bringing them to the suitors. This has potentially disastrous consequences for Odysseus, as it significantly reduces his advantage over the suitors. Telemachus recognizes his mistake and tells Odysseus, “The fault, father, is mine, and mine only.” Although some of the suitors were lightly armed at the beginning of the battle, Telemachus’s mistake and Melanthius’s treachery make the battle between Odysseus and the suitors more equal.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In The Odyssey, the suitors in the final scene are cut off from the weapons originally. When Telemakhos returns to the storage room to get more weapons, he accidentally leaves the door open. Melanthius, a disloyal goatherd, runs to room and gathers weapons to pass out to the suitors. On his second trip to the room, he is caught by Eumaeus (swineherd) and Philoitius (oxherd). Remember, the other two herders are on Odysseus and Telemakhos's side. This further emphasizes their loyalty and goodness while it puts Melanthius on the same level as the suitors. Odysseus and Telemakhos's ability to kill the suitors even after they are armed characterizes them as physically as well as morally superior to the other suitors.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team